Located 3 miles northwest of The Loop, Bucktown is a unique neighborhood with a rich history.
With roots as an immigrant “port-of-entry” and working-class industrial powerhouse, today Bucktown is one of Chicago’s most popular neighborhoods. Whether they are picking through threads on bustling Damen Avenue, rocking out to a punk band at Subterranean, or grabbing a bite and a beer at one of the local taverns, residents love Chicago’s home of modern living.
Founded only a few miles downriver from Fort Dearborn, Bucktown was first settled by Polish immigrants. In these early days, the area was a humble collection of cottages, saloons, and farms built along groves and gentle hills. Some say the neighborhood is named for the goats (a male goat is a “buck”) raised by Bucktown’s original residents.
The community grew with an influx of German immigrants. The resulting village took the name of their homeland, Holstein. By the 1850s, new railway lines and industry came to the area, bringing workers and their families. The now thriving village was annexed by Chicago in February 1863. Devastation from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, lead to the construction stone and brick structures (rather than wood), a choice which continues to influence the look of the neighborhood. In this early period, notable residents included the Pritzkers, Crowns, and Saul Bellows.
The area continued to change and diversify in the early 20th century, as Bucktown became a “port-of-entry” for Puerto Rican and Mexican immigrants. From the 1930s to the late 1980s, Bucktown experienced what some have called a “period of decline” as wealthy residents gradually moved away and many businesses closed. In the 1980s, the neighborhood experienced a remarkable turnaround as it attracted a generation of young artists, giving the area a “cutting-edge” reputation. Since, artists, students, families have continued to be attracted to all Bucktown has to offer.
Bucktown is a city-wide destination for its foodie-worthy restaurant scene, independent bookstores, record shops, art galleries, theaters, and music venues. With both upscale retailers, local boutiques, and thrift shops finding a home in the community, the neighborhood has become one of the most unique and diverse shopping destinations in Chicago. These attractions are primarily located along Milwaukee and Damen Ave. Beyond these major streets, one can find local-owned corner stores, independent coffee houses, and bars.
The area is famous for its nightlife scene. People come from across the city for its live music scene, including classic venues such as Subterranean and The Hideout. Drinking establishments from inventive cocktail havens and local breweries like The Violet Hour and Map Room, to trendy taverns like The Northside and Big Star keep responsible adults well lubricated.
The Wicker Park Fest (partially held in Bucktown) is recognized by the Chicago Tribune as the premiere summer street fest in the Chicago area. Every summer, nationally renowned bands play alongside great food and drink and a creative art scene. The Bucktown Arts Fest, 30 years in the making, showcases some of the best artists in the city. The festival is a non-profit, all-volunteer affair with proceeds supporting arts education at local Holstein Park.
Local recreation facilities keep the area active. Chicago’s answer to New York’s High Line, The Bloomingdale Line (known locally as The 606) is a railway track converted to a public green space. Running east-west from Logan Square through Bucktown, the park is used by pedestrians, joggers, and bikers alike. Another local favorite is Holstein Park. The fieldhouse is equipped with two gymnasiums, an assembly hall, and a public swimming pool. Outside, a baseball field, softball field, volleyball court, and a playground provide a fun outlet for residents of all ages. The park also offers Summer Camps for kids, year-round arts programming, and special events like the Family Valentine Dance and an Easter Egg Hunt.
Bucktown has a rich history and all residents have left their mark, from the Polish Cathedrals, German-named Holstein Park, Puerto Rican and Mexican restaurants, to the area’s art galleries and music venues. Housing options include older single family homes, renovated multi-unit buildings, as well as architecturally interesting new builds, and converted industrial loft spaces. Chicago’s home of modern living is seeking new applicants!